With NXT TakeOver and SummerSlam, we are ready for one hell of a wrestling weekend. For a few months, the pandemic has shuffled the cards, asked every one of us to be innovative in our lives. Wrestling companies also had to make some choices. WWE decided to make the fans come back safely through LED screens. No one will be physically there but we’ll hear the roar of the crowd. Welcome to the ThunderDome... This the Blue brand go-home show to SummerSlam. Two Championship matches are announced for tonight. AJ Styles vs Jeff Hardy for the Intercontinental Championship and Lucha House Party vs Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. Big E will face off Sheamus. Braun Strowman will deliver one final message to The Fiend before SummerSlam. Mr. McMahon is set to open the show.

 

The Episode

  • Vince McMahon welcomed us to WWE ThunderDome. He said no one brings thunder as WWE do, which is why we’ll never see it coming this Sunday at SummerSlam. Which is also why every week… Vince was interrupted with the lights starting to go down. Vince looked around as the red lights and lasers shoot across the arena. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt came to the ring, Vince stared at him, The Fiend laughed and Braun Strowman arrived. The Fiend turned around, taking his attention from Vince to The Monster. Strowman entered the ring and stared The Fiend down. Vince has left the ring. RETRIBUTION members suddenly appear on the apron, distracting Strowman and The Fiend. More RETRIBUTION members rushed the ring and surrounded Strowman and The Fiend, on the apron. The Fiend kept staring at Strowman and started nodding his head. Strowman nodded and smiled back at The Fiend. The lights suddenly went out. When the lights came back up, The Fiend was gone. RETRIBUTION rushed the ring and attacked Strowman. He fought some of them off but there were too many of them. Many Superstars rushed the ring but RETRIBUTION tried to keep them from entering. Another wave of Superstars ran down. The SmackDown Superstars, male and female, finally started to make progress in clearing the ring of RETRIBUTION. Gulak and Jey Uso helped Strowman to his feet. Strowman recovered, dropped Gulak, then tossed Uso over the top rope.

 

  • Big E defeated Sheamus. After the match, Tucker and Otis entered the ring to dance with Big E.
  • We saw Jeff Hardy getting his leg checked out. He said someone fell on him from behind but that was all he knew. He asked the medic if they can give him a brace or something because he can’t miss tonight’s match.
  • Lucha House Party vs. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado w/ Kalisto) to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Titles. We get a promo from John Morrison and The Miz in a sidebar video as they were watching backstage. After the match, Dorado looked on and Kalisto checked on him. Dorado almost pushed Kalisto away and they had words. Metalik got in the middle of them and Kalisto got knocked down. Kalisto and Dorado continued arguing as Metalik held them back from each other.

  • While Jeff Hardy was still getting his leg checked out by the medic, Michael Cole showed us footage from earlier in the night showing AJ Styles was the one who hit Hardy from behind. AJ was backstage with Kayla Braxton now. AJ said he was trying to show urgency with RETRIBUTION but Hardy got in the way. AJ knocked Hardy for wasting his career and his opportunities. AJ mocked Hardy some more and walked off.
  • Kayla asked Mandy Rose about Sonya Deville. Rose mentioned this has been a rough week for Deville (an unknown man entered Sonya Deville’s house and tried to abduct her). She didn’t know what is in Sonya’s head, but she knew how she feels. She went on about how they once were friends, for the good and bad. Rose said she needs to speak directly to Sonya.

  • Corey Graves welcomed in the ring RAW Women’s Champion Sasha Banks and SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley. He brought up how they both will defend their singles titles against Asuka on Sunday, with Asuka possibly leaving SummerSlam with gold. Bayley said no chance because they will destroy Asuka on Sunday. Bayley said everything they do is for the company, which is why they have all the gold. Graves then brought up how Bayley offered to face Asuka first at SummerSlam. Bayley says this was just a suggestion as Banks was just as capable of going first. Banks asked if Bayley is trying to volunteer her again. Graves asked if he senses a disagreement again and Bayley said no. Bayley went on about how there’s no one in the locker room that can touch them. Out came Naomi who proposed that she faces both Banks and Bayley tonight. They agreed. Naomi asked which one will feel her wrath first. They argued some and Graves suggested something like a Beat The Clock Challenge. Naomi liked that. She asked who wants to go first. Banks and Bayley talked it over but Naomi attacked.

  • Beat The Clock Challenge: Sasha Banks defeated Naomi in 3:39, but Naomi defeated Bayley with 1:44 on the clock. After the match, Cole confirms that Banks will defend her title after Bayley defended her title against Asuka on Sunday. Naomi exited but Asuka arrived, taunting the Champions and saying she will be The Empress of Every Title at SummerSlam because no one is ready for Asuka. Asuka danced, Bayley and Banks were not on the best vibe.

  • Jeff Hardy was cleared by the medic despite limping.
  • Sonya Deville told Kayla she has nothing to say to Braxton about Mandy and will say anything she does have to the entire world. Deville turned away and Dana Brooke walked up. Dana apologized for what Deville went through this past week. Deville said it’s nothing she can’t handle. Deville then delivered a huge slap to Brooke’s face and called her disrespectful. After the break, Deville was on the stage and said she gets it, Rose is second-guessing her own talent. Deville said that’s exactly what she said Rose would do. They will face at SummerSlam but clearly Rose is bothered about being bald and everyone knows Deville doesn’t care about being bald. Deville proposed they up the ante for SummerSlam. She said they’re going to have a No DQ match and the loser will leave WWE because she realized that hair or no hair, she’s sick of looking at Rose’s face. Deville told Rose to wipe her tears and bring her A-game.

  • Video package on the feud between “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt and WWE Universal Champion Braun Strowman, with Alexa Bliss’ involvement. Nikki Cross was backstage sitting in a chair worried. She talked about Alexa Bliss and how she seemed off or different earlier this week. She talked and acted like Alexa but… the Alexa she knows was warm and funny and the person she spoke to on Tuesday was not Alexa Bliss. That scared Cross. She just had a feeling that something terrible was about to happen.

 

  • Jeff Hardy defeated AJ Styles to become a 5-time Intercontinental Champion. After the match, Hardy told Kayla he would’ve said you were crazy if you told him one year ago that he would be winning the title again because he was in a dark place he couldn’t find his way out of. He said life is always a challenge but he stood tonight with a painful knee but more importantly, hope that things will get better for everyone else who struggled.
  • Backstage, AJ Styles was furious at Joseph Park, his statistician, saying Jeff cheated to win with the knee brace.
  • Another must-see edition of The Firefly Fun House with Bray Wyatt. Wyatt said he loves everyone but then he goes on about why love is bad. Wyatt took a mystery phone call and then talked about Alexa Bliss and WWE Universal Champion Braun Strowman. He sent us to a movie special with Huskus and Blonde Ramblin Rabbit playing the roles of Bliss and Strowman. They kissed and Wyatt interrupted, saying that’s not how it went down. They got lost in the moment. Wyatt said love can only lead to pain and suffering, the best thing we can do is be more like “him.” He couldn’t wait to get his hands on Braun. Wyatt sensed something, Strowman suddenly attacked from the side and destroyed Wyatt, beating him down. Strowman dragged Wyatt away and said he’s not finished with him.

    We saw Strowman dominating Wyatt, talking trash while beating him down. A group of referees walked up and tried to talk Strowman out of it but he went ahead and launched Wyatt from a loading dock down to the concrete floor. Strowman yelled at the officials to get out of his way and then walked off. WWE officials rushed down to Wyatt, who was laid out on the concrete. An ambulance backed up while referees and WWE producers were checking on Wyatt. They put Wyatt onto a stretcher but he was still not moving. WWE Producer Adam Pearce yelled at the ambulance to hurry up and drive off but, instead, it slowly drove away and then stopped. A red light was seen in the ambulance. The doors swang open, a shocked Pearce backed up against the other officials standing there. The Fiend was standing on the step of the back of the ambulance, laughing uncontrollably.

 

Highs and Lows 

Up, Up

Big E defeating Sheamus was really impressive, even if these two have the potential to bring this feud on a PPV level. As I’m used to telling you when I’m doing the SmackDown review, I’m absolutely for Big E’s singles push. But unlike his friend and stable partner Kofi, this run is very unlikely to bring him to a championship, which he would have deserved.

Jeff Hardy is the new Intercontinental Champion. And I think it all caught us by surprise. Not because he doesn’t deserve it but I honestly think AJ Styles would have a long run as IC Champ. Then, after everything Jeff Hardy had gone through on a personal level and the way WWE used it as a storyline, this win is a sign of hope for anyone who had issues in his/her life. This is what we call redemption. But expect AJ Styles to ask for a rematch, probably at Payback.

Sadly, this tweet is not reflecting the truth. But the sound of Sonya’s slap on Dana was so thunderous I think the whole world heard it.

The Fiend and Braun Strowman end segment was pure magic. The face of WWE producer, whether it was Adam Pearce, Jamie Noble or Sonjay Dutt, said it all. This was scarily gorgeous to watch. I can’t wait for their match at SummerSlam… Have I told you I love Monsters?

Down, Down

What was this opener? In a matter of 10 or 15 minutes and 3 commercial breaks, we witnessed a mess like no other. Vince cut by The Fiend, cut by Strowman, cut by RETRIBUTION, cut by the SmackDown roster… This is exactly the kind of segment that goes nowhere and brings nothing to the table, maybe not two days before a major PPV but eight days before another PPV…

As the news editor here, I chose not to talk about what happened to Sonya Deville on our website to respect her private life. WWE decided to introduce this scary moment into the episode… So be it, but Sonya, you have all my support…

AJ Styles had every reason to be PISSed… If you don’t understand the joke, read last week’s review

We have another PPV next week… Yes, Payback on August 30. Like I’m used to saying in my IMPACT reviews, too much is not enough. When it comes to WWE, enough is enough. For the moment, we only know Sasha and Bayley will defend the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships. Eight days before the PPV…

How About The ThunderDome?

Sadly for you, we experimented this idea of virtual fans on LED screens in France so I was not surprised to see what it was looking like. If some TV shows in France used maybe 50 screens, it was looking cool. I don’t how many people were on the screens, I tried to find the maximum capacity of the ThunderDome, which I couldn’t, but it looked cool. I was also missing the pyros, the lights, the atmosphere of an arena. It was really looking more like a wrestling show than the ones from the PC, with this poor NXT kids in a plexiglass cage. The WWE ThunderDome may not be perfect but, at least, it exists and allows the fans to “be back” at the shows.

Overall

You won’t see it coming, they said? Absolutely. After an absolute mess of opening, this episode of Friday Night SmackDown was a true go-home show, with a lot of action destined to promote SummerSlam, but also to tease the upcoming Payback PPV. Jeff Hardy becoming Intercontinental Champion was a truly good surprise. And this Monster’s Fight was just fabulous to watch. On the Blue side of WWE, SummerSlam has everything to be a success, with some freaky and cool matches. And damn, I love freaks…

All pics and videos courtesy of WWE